Tuesday – Day 2
The second day of our memorable study trip started with a nourishing breakfast including typical continental breakfast as well as Moroccan specialties such as Amlou, the delicious “Berber Nutella”, made of argan oil, almonds as well as honey.
BMCE Bank of Africa
Off we went by bus to the BMCE Bank of Africa at 9:15 am. After a quick run under the heavy rain of Casablanca, we arrived at the very nice property of the bank where we were kindly welcomed by a warm thé à la menthe as well as a beautiful selection of traditional sweets.
The speeches were introduced by a very inspiring trailer including the “beyond borders” vision of the company. After being a state owned company for about 35 years, BMCE Bank of Africa has been privatized in 1995. A strong network across four continents has been established. However, the focus where the company also sees its competitive edge is the penetration of the African continent. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the ambition of the company is not only profitability but at the same time sustainability and shareholder value creation. Following an introduction to the company, its offering and strategy, we were informed about the currency of Morocco, the Dirham. Currently, the aim is to change from a fixed to a free floating exchange rate in order to strengthen the nation’s competitiveness.
Subsequently, the head of sustainable development, Soraya Sebti, introduced us to BMCE Bank of Africa’s sustainability program. In order to tackle the challenges in Africa, BMCE Bank of Africa created the “Fondation BMCE Bank” in 1995. The positive influence of education starting in an early stage of a human’s life is of big importance to the foundation. Therefore, the promotion of education in rural areas is one of their core areas. Apart from education, the foundation also commits to the preservation of the environment.
Many projects are in cooperation with other organizations or partners, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Thanks to the projects in the area of education, over 18’000 children have access to schools today. The Bank was the first to be ISO certified and has been awarded the best CSR performer in the country for the fourth year in a row.
Another great program supported by the BMCE Bank of Africa is the African Entrepreneurship Award. This program enables African entrepreneurs to share their ideas and to develop a business plan and strategy. The best and most innovative ideas win the award and are supported in the execution of their projects. It is a great way to inspire people and by that fostering innovation and economic growth. The following video provides additional information:
We did not expect any meal but were ravished by the Moroccan hospitality. For lunch, we have been treated to traditional Moroccan food. After a very tasty and slightly spicy appetizer, vegetables and meat on a bed of couscous were served. As a contrast, there were caramelized onions as well as raisins on top. When the server asked us for a milky-looking drink, we were first a bit hesitant. However, we decided to do as the Moroccans do and tried the rich yet tasty buttermilk. Nice conversations at the table were complemented with a private etiquette insight from Dr. Kendzia. We won’t forget how to fold and use a tissue and will make sure that the cutlery is in the 20 past 4 position after completing a meal.
BMCE Bank of Africa – Trading Floor
After lunch, the spontaneously offered visit to the trading floor at BMCE Bank, right next to our hotel, took place. We got the chance to have a unique look into the facilities where BMCE processes and manages trades of their clients and we also had the opportunity to talk to experts working in the fields such as:
- FX / Currency trades
- Commodities trading
- Equity / Bonds trading
- Money Markets / Fixed Income trading
They provided us with valuable insights of what their consumers demand most, which, with many corporate clients, is naturally the hedging of risk exposures.
The short inspection rounded out a great inside view of the BMCE Bank of Africa with the general information session in the morning and the office visit in the afternoon.
The final part of tuesday’s program was the presentation about information about mövenpick Morocco and Morocco’s future outlook. The presenters were Mr. Amr Kallini (General Manager) and Tarik Kerdoudi (Commercial Director).
The hotel is owned 66% by the German family who founded the Mövenpick and rest is owned by the Moroccan royal family. Generally, in Africa, the properties are owned by someone and management contracts are made for certain periods, whereas in Europe most hotels are leased. Mövenpick is the only hotel in Morocco who serves their own food.
From Mr. Amr Kallini’s personal view, the terrorism (Daesh; ISIS) around the world is affecting the tourism sector in Morocco. Even though there was no attack in Morocco, people cancel reservation after these events due to the perception that these groups are created in Northern Africa.
Definitely good news according to Mr. Kallini is that Marrakech is getting more and more popular around the world for holiday trips and high hopes are in the possibility of hosting the football world cup in 2026, which would boost the economy.
Why investing in Morocco?
Mr. Tarik Kerdoudi continued by giving 7 reasons to invest in Morocco:
- Cost Competitiveness
- Strong and Stable Macroeconomic Performance
In relative to other North African countries the last eight years.
- Free Trade Access to One Billion Consumers
- World Class Infrastructure
- Qualified Labor Force
- Sectoral Plans
- Constantly improving business Climate
The following challenges in Morocco are vital to consider for foreign investors:
- Corruption rate: 37 (100 points = no corruption)
- Culture – French and Collectivistic
- Relationship-oriented business (habibi-business)
- Islam – religious events (Q2 usually lower GDP-Growth)
- Concept of face
We experienced a highly informative Tuesday. Our mind has been broadened through newly gained information regarding the culture, religion as well as economic situation of the finance and tourism industry. There were definitely a lot of messages that we are going to take home to Switzerland!
Written by Group 6, Bami, Carmen, Yasmin, Christoph